The journey … my personal journey of the heart, of the slow and steady awakening that relentlessly continues … a runaway train perhaps, for lack of a better analogy 😂 … Osho teachings are rarely far from my conscious awareness and continue to alter me in subtle ways. I trust the journey and will stay the course.
I left behind a wintry Calgary on the very early morning hours of January 28th to catch a flight to the warm coastal Puerto Vallarta region in the Jalisco Province of Mexico. I could not have chosen a more serene and perfect spot to savour the sea ambiance than this small family run boutique hotel perched on a steep hillside in Conchas Chinas! I was stunned into silent reverence. I savoured every last hour of my five days here ❤️. The staff became my friends. Several times, I took a bus into town just to enjoy a walk along the iconic Puerto Vallarta Malecon, breathing the moisture rich sea air deeply into my lungs. But even more enjoyable was walking the cobbly streets and rather steep pitches of Conchas Chinas to the beautiful and virtually empty beach below. It was a good time for me to be alone, to assimilate the past few months of my time both in India and with family in Calgary.
I have tried to remain somewhat impassive to the energy that permeated my last week in India. I simply have no words to effectively describe that internal shift in awareness that was slowly evolving. I am left wanting to sit in silence more often than not. It is a peaceful wanting. Back in Canada, totally immersed in family functions and interactions for the past month and a half …. left little space or time for reflection. My grandchildren remain a major focus as young children so delightfully do … they are beautiful lights in my life. My children have long been adults and have found their own way. Sooo …. as I explore these next chapters in my own life, the internal changes continue to dominate … the external ones happen with little input on my part 😗. I have a few days for quiet time in Puerto Vallarta prior to meeting up with friends in San Miguel de Allende. I sat the other day, along the seawall for a very long time, just being, just listening to the waves. So peaceful, so soothing, so healing. I have never considered myself to be the sort to follow any particular ideology or religion but if Osho, the Bhagwan Rajneesh were alive today …. who knows??? His ways resonated deeply, his laser piercing eyes that seemingly see all, know all … the clipped clarity of his messages … I have no words to describe the effect on me. I simply remain humbled and grateful for the insights and lessons learned in Pune from the wisdom of his meditations, his discourses, his very energy that still wafts through the Ashram decades after his passing. To quote one of his early followers, “Osho was a beautiful gift”. Yes, so he was/is 🙏🙏
A quote of Osho’s I particularly like:
“Move in the world with a light foot, and with laughter in your heart. And then suddenly the whole existence starts turning into a divine experience. The mundane becomes
Confronting the commercial landscape of a typical Canadian Christmas season created a bit of a culture shock after my return from India! Having lived in a meditative ashram environment for six weeks, it took a few days to adjust 😌!! Despite my deep love of family and savouring the warm squishy, oh so loving hugs of my grandchildren, I was surprised to find myself yearning for the simplicity of the Osho Ashram, an environment totally devoid of the primarily western based Christmas zeal. Hmmmm … I have been facing this personal dilemma about Christmas for a few years now and have yet to dig up the courage to do anything about it 😗. I love my family … I love being a positive loving and often playful influence on my grandchildren, I love the family parties and get togethers but every fibre of my being wants to be as far away as possible from the commercial aspect of the Christmas season. Yikes …. have I morphed into a Grinch?? Hmmmm … I hope not … it could just be a natural evolution of the human spirit as we age along. I would so willingly hand over the age old traditions of Christmas to my children, to handle as they see fit and inevitably develop their own traditions for their families and partners as they are both actually doing, now that I think of it 😗. And as for me? … maybe take a hiatus from it all …. it is time. But then again, I have been saying this for a few years now 😂! Torn.
With my emerging grinchy attitude put on hold, the family functions of the season were a delight and warmed my heart immensely. I happily and lovingly share a pictorial journey into the past month of family time with my precious ones …. ❤️ Sharing family functions, be they dinners, mountain getaways or a breakfast of Finnish pancakes … they will always be treasured …
Hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago, I was still somewhat ambivalent about this whole place! I was beginning to think I had booked a few weeks too many here! Ha! What wonders await when one lets go of judgements and preconceived notions. The door opens and fresh air moves in.
Curiosity about Osho’s got me here in the first place so I persevered, opened my heart and gave the place a chance . Eventually, the magical energy everyone talks about made its way to me as well. It is such a calming and beautiful experience. I now totally understand why so many return yearly. The energy and meditation practice helps facilitate a deep connection with our Buddha selves, becoming the silent witness rather than the reactionary. The energy and teachings subtly weave themselves through the fibres of our hearts, settling in, giving a wee taste of what I imagine the mystics, zen masters and devotees have always experienced and known. To catch even a glimpse feels so right in every way. 🙏
The staff here are amazing … kind, caring, thoughtful, helpful … I will miss them as much as anyone. I have made friends with both local Indians and foreigners, employees and guests, auto rickshaw drivers and children in parks. Many Osho guests stay a week or two, but rarely longer … it can make for fleeting friendships though not necessarily so. A small handful come for a month or two. I was mentioning to Akshay, my newest dear friend, that I love the smiles I receive daily from Indians. All I do is greet people with a friendly hello smile and I am rewarded with a ‘glorious genuine light up a room kind of smile’ in return. Akshay tells me it is because Indian people smile with their hearts!! How beautiful is that ❤️
Vaipav below … Guest House Manager … a lovely kind human being who helped enormously as I navigated my way around the Ashram in the early days.
So yes, home beckons but saying good bye to India is tougher than I imagined this time around. Just finished my last Osho discourse and evening meditation. The tears flowed freely. On this last evening Akshay, Marie and I opt for dinner out of the Ashram … at Dario’s, an Italian restaurant of sorts and a two minute walk from our gate! I met Marie while we were both checking in on our very first day at Osho’s. Akshay and I ‘met’ at the celebration of life a few days later … I say met, but in reality, I sensed his presence there … a somewhat mystical experience … it happens here 😊
Marie, from France, has been travelling for the better part of a year and plans on continuing to do so for awhile yet. She is a lovely young woman … no coincidence we were at the check-in counter at exactly the same time .. I have always felt we meet who we are meant to meet in life! The decades that separate us become insignificant when one meets a kindred soul.
Always a joy for me to connect with people I have in some ways come to view as my ‘global tribe’ … a common trait runs through them all … a silent understanding … we “get” who we are at our heart level, without the necessity of knowing or rehashing each other’s background history or engaging in overly long winded personal stories. A connected ‘knowingness’, an acceptance from the heart just happens. It is an experience that permeates the very air at Osho’s. A reminder for me to always keep an open heart, to engage in loving connection with whoever crosses my path. We really are all on this journey of life together … all of us! One big human tribe with love as the connector … John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ comes to mind … imagine! ❤️
Akshay lives in a small town a few hundred kms from Pune and has been coming monthly to Osho’s for a few years. His rivers, like Marie’s, run deep. Both spiritually wise beyond their years … so amazing to have shared even a small portion of this experience with two such beautiful souls. Both contemplate remaining for an indefinite period of time at Osho’s and indeed are considering staying on as sannyasins. Here we are in our evening robes at the front gate to Osho’s where pictures are allowed … after the meeting and meditation.
So, what to say other than ‘alavida’ India. Alavida Osho Ashram, alavida Marie and Akshay, alavida dear children of India. Til we meet again.
How else to phrase these past several weeks other than to reference my slowly developing ability to be a ‘silent witness’ in my own life. The purpose of Osho’s every meditation is to connect with the Buddha energy that lives within us all, Buddha simply referred to as the awakened one! It is the quintessential term that runs through many of Osho’s quotes, every meditation, every multiversity course, every evening meeting, every discourse …. seemingly every single moment! … as I walk these marbled and concrete tiled Ashram paths, as I sit in marble auditoriums, in parks on concrete benches, or in plastic chairs or even as I lay on my bed as night falls … silent witness! It remains a challenge to even attempt to find the words to express and share the experience of the past weeks.
The meditations are many and varied …. there is the dynamic (my least favourite), kundalini, nadabrahma, devavani, chakra breathing, chakra sounds, vipassana, silent sitting (still my favourite 🙏), no-dimensions, mandala, whirling Sufi style meditation, darkness meditation, nataraj and of course the final evening meeting, Osho discourse and dance celebration!! …. exhaustion comes to mind if one does all six hour long meditations listed per day on a new schedule released weekly! Almost all meditations have vigorous movement, fast or slow breathing techniques and dancing components for half the time hence the exhaustion! The evening is usually for socializing, with yet more dancing, singing karaoke or even an evening of painting for exploring creative expression … they have the bases covered 😗!! In many ways, this place is a very well oiled ‘business’ (and, despite asking, I have yet to hear a definitive answer on who actually ‘owns’ this Ashram/meditation resort since Osho passed 28 years ago!!) … but it does maintain much of what Osho initially started … even if I tend to think that perhaps some of the soulfulness of Osho is missing from the place overall. Every practice and course, whatever shape they take on, appear to be geared towards releasing repressed emotions be they from childhood and beyond or past lives. It is an emotionally exhausting journey to be sure! There is little doubt that all these different styles of meditations draw out repressed emotions as is their intention. The multiversity courses go further and deeper from what I have observed and discussed with participants, although I personally have only participated in ‘tasters’. Often I feel emotionally raw, turned inside out, in a good way. Perhaps like life itself, some things have to be experienced and cannot be explained.
On another note entirely, it has been a relief in many respects, to be offline most of the time. Photos are not allowed to be taken anywhere on the grounds.
Cell phones are not allowed anywhere except in a few isolated spots with so-so wifi and not allowed in any meditation areas, cafes, public areas period!! … so most of us choose to leave them in the safe in our rooms. We are ‘living our lives’ here rather than photo documenting or constantly checking social media, entertainment, news media sites, information networks, music videos, games … a phenomenon that has became the new norm for most of the world. Undoubtedly some of that may be business related but not most! New for me not to whip out my iPhone for pictures … a part of me sure does want to capture the moments and the people I have met here to keep as memories …. hmmm. As I step outside the gates and leave the serenity of the Ashram behind and enter into the more chaotic ‘other side of India’, just a few blocks away, it would appear most Indians also are on their IPhones and Samsungs …. gone are the Nokia phones from just a few short years ago! The new phones and the instant connection to all manner of information can be addictive!
How freeing to not have the technology noose around my neck … aaah my analogies 😂!!
Throughout the weeks … (I tend to think of the Ashram as a mini United Nations) … I have sat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, tea, evening dancing celebrations and of course zillions of meditations with people from India, Brazil, Switzerland, Britain, Israel, Mexico, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Australia, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, France, America, Wales, Czech Republic, Iran, Chile, Romania … whew! As conversations evolve, all of us agree that Oshos is a welcome retreat/respite from our phones and laptops and none of us really misses it that much. Yes, most of us do check phones every now and again albeit briefly and once or twice a week I am online for an hour but mostly my phone is “out of commission”. It feels good.
Osho gave a discourse the other night about our senses … and how our vision determines most of what we experience in human interactions when we are speaking face to face (up to 80%)…. I do note his tendency to exaggerate just slightly 😗. Words may often fail to correctly convey what we feel, what we mean, what our intentions are etc. and accordingly, more often than not, are misconstrued … boy, didn’t I relate to that discourse??!!! Osho valued truth. He did not sugar coat anything. He does not believe in telling anyone what they necessarily want to hear but rather what they need to hear to further their growth as human beings. He does this in a very subtle manner as befitting a zen master … a title he would probably reject :). Simple truth, whether it be pleasant to hear or not is a cornerstone of his discourses. Probably why I enjoy his ‘philosophy’ so much 😗!! I have always appreciated straight shooters. Political correctness is rarely in my vernacular. Actions speak volumes and facial expressions rarely lie hence Osho’s 80% factor. I imagine somewhere in his books he must reference those who are blind and cannot rely on sight .. 😗
As the discourse continued on ‘living our truth, being our truth’… I pondered my own subconscious lifelong tendency to watch people when they speak! I never really thought about it much until now but that ‘watching’ has been invaluable in so many ways. From facial expressions alone it is often possible to tell when someone is truthful, or not! One learns so much from just quietly observing people at play, at work, how they treat others. When eyes meet, words sometimes become irrelevant … eyes can communicate so much!! So yes, Osho was on to something … Truth. It’s in the eyes. It’s in the actions. Wonderful if also in the words. How fortunate if all three components synchronize!
I share below a brief excerpt from Osho’s very long discourse on truth. If anyone is interested, the full discourse is online:
“How to attain truth? By dropping all kinds of beliefs. And remember, I am saying all kinds – belief in me is included. Experience me, come along with me, let me share what I have seen, but don’t believe, don’t be in a hurry. Don’t say, “Now what is the point? Now Osho has seen it, all that is left for me is to believe it.”
“What I have seen cannot become your experience unless you see it. And it is the experience of truth that delivers you from ignorance, from bondage, from misery. It is not the belief that delivers you, it is truth. Jesus says, “Truth liberates.” But how to attain to truth? It is not a question of belief, but a question of meditativeness. And what is meditation? Meditation is emptying your mind completely of all belief, ideology, concept, thought. Only in an empty mind, when there is no dust left on the mirror, truth reflects. That reflection is a benediction.” …. Osho
Sooo … It would appear I am slowly warming up to the ever mystical, always controversial Osho/Rajneesh, born on December 11, 1931.
Although I am in no danger of becoming a ‘sanyasi’ of a long dead zen master, I am enjoying learning about him and listening to his colourful, humour ridden discourses. I look forward to them at every meeting! It has come to my attention that I may well be the sole participant here who has not read a single book about or by Osho and had never attended his meditations prior to coming to Pune! What can I say, I like surprises??! 😂. My dear friend Mickey Gibson was sure I was returning to India to join the Hare Krishnas 😂! No, I am simply an explorer, exploring the many different ways we live on this beautiful green and blue planet … learning about stillness, about truth, of being the silent witness, of connecting with the Buddha that lives within us all.
When a participant of the Osho Meditation Resort passes away and an Osho Death Celebration requested, everyone at the Ashram is invited and indeed encouraged to attend. All other meditations are cancelled with the life celebration taking precedence. According to Osho philosophy, both death and life are celebrations! A long time elderly devotee of Osho passed away a few days after I arrived in Pune. As is custom, the celebration and cremation take place the day after the passing!
The gentleman’s body was lying on a wood and bamboo type of platform, placed on a cart and wheeled into the Osho Pyramid Meditation Auditorium by family members. He was shrouded in a simple white cloth decorated with marigolds and various flowers. There is little mourning when a Hindu dies because they believe that once a person is born he or she never dies. The soul lives on. Often there is little crying. They believe the point of a ‘funeral‘ is to show respect not sadness. High energy music played on the sound system as we circled his body, singing, drumming, dancing with family members.
The body was then taken to the Burning Ghats on the merging Mula Murtha Rivers for the cremation where more drumming, singing and humming continued, followed by a reverent silence as the burning commenced. This portion of the celebration was somewhat more somber and I personally felt it should be reserved for family members although many from the Ashram stayed behind. A few of us opted to stand back out of respect for the family’s privacy.
“Fire is a great symbol of purification, of detachment, of rising vertically towards the ultimate space which is our home. We come from there and we go back there”…. Osho
Despite the celebratory aspect, it certainly was a sobering early intro to my life here in Pune! Over the last weeks, I have slowly been processing this unexpected participation in a life celebration. It is such a vast departure from our Western ways. It was hard not to draw a parallel to my sister Raija’s recent and vastly different memorial service and cremation. Yes, we do things differently in our Western world … not necessarily better, not worse but certainly with a different attitude towards death.
The Ashram continues to foster an unusual kind of quiet in me. A reflective, far less reactive me is re-emerging. Puzzling because a lot of the meditations or portions of them can be quite loud and somewhat annoying for someone like me who prefers a quiet style. Perhaps the science behind these meditations, much toted here and developed by Osho long ago, is relevant after all … although I was and still remain somewhat skeptical!! However millions of believers have experienced great results in peaceful personal growth … so who am I to dispute Osho’s methodology?? I remind myself that I did not come here as a tourist for a holiday but to learn something new that intrigues me … ie. remind myself to keep an open mind 😗 !
Early mornings usually find me in the outdoor breakfast area around the pool, sipping a ginger lemon tea, munching on the fruit of the day, and a chunk of cheese. As I sip and munch, I watch the birds flying from tree to tree, chirping away as the sun slowly rises over the tree line. I have rediscovered my love for the peaceful energy of early mornings! Teerth Park for a nature bathing walk remains part of my early morning ritual. I savour the peaceful unfolding of another day 🙏.
The days pass in peaceful reflective meditative awareness. It may well be my only ‘souvenir’ of the Osho Ashram, this calm sense of me. I hope so 😊
How easy to shift into a state of being the ‘silent witness’ to ourselves here in this supportive serene ambiance. It is the way of the Ashram. Not so easy to do in the ‘outside’ world with its myriad of digital, electronic and various societal distractions, commitments, functions, interactions … throw into the mix the emotional dysfunctions that intermittently control the speech, behaviour and actions of the vast majority of us and the challenge to maintain a peaceful awareness becomes obvious. 😗.
I arrived in Pune with basically no idea on what I would encounter. I had few, if any expectations. Initially, as I kept colliding with Ashram rules I did not exactly embrace the place or the intense nature of some of the courses and meditation styles but the energy of the people, the meditations, the dance celebrations, the Osho discourses, the wholesome vegetarian food, the lack of outside distractions … the whole scene slowly worked its magic and I eased into the soothing calm of life inside an Ashram/commune/meditation resort.
Osho and his philosophy is not everyone’s cup of tea by any means, but I am open and willing to take a few sips and explore yet another way of looking at life … inevitably, I always learn something while doing so 🙏
There is value and benefit to be derived when one is taken off guard by an unexpected turn, a road less travelled, jumping into unknown waters … certainly gets us out of our comfort zones …. comfortable as they may be, sometimes a shake up is in order 😂 …. time to try out a new perspective or learn something new, be it about myself, others or the world 😊 …. or participate in something I am just a tiny bit afraid to do. Coming this far from the comforts of home, by myself, with no idea what kind of Ashram this place actually was, certainly qualified!! It was perhaps time to jiggle juggle things around a bit 🙃!!
If I had any plan in place at all prior to my arrival in Pune, it was that I was coming for a spiritual tune-up to a country I continue to be inexplicably drawn to.
I knew little if anything of Osho and his teachings. He was (still is) often viewed as a controversial guru by Western critics. Osho was a man who regularly contradicted his own philosophies in a playful manner and delighted in doing so! … he had a great sense of humour as all enlightened beings seem to have. He is a mystical icon in Pune, if not in all of India and beyond! Osho passed away in 1990 while still in his fifties … quite young by today’s standards. There is much speculation and controversy about his early death. Apparently there is a movie out on his life on Netflix and the curious questionable details surrounding his death. I think I will take it in when back in Canada.
Osho has millions of devotees in India alone … Europeans, Brits, Asians, Australians, Scandinavians also all appear to know of his teachings more readily than do North Americans … could be why between them and the locals, they totally out number Canadian and American participants ten to one at the Ashram. Distance would play into that as well of course! Despite a bit of cursory googling of the Osho website a few months prior to booking my stay here, my decision to come pretty much remains a singular one … knowing the deep and powerful impact Osho and his teachings had on two of my favourite and respected Sanskrit chant musicians, Deva Premal and Miten, the possibility existed that I would discover something worth exploring. I wing things often on instinct alone. In this case, it appears to have been enough.
I chanced upon this beautiful lotus pond in Teerth Park on the Ashram grounds the other day.
It reminded me of a video talk given by Osho on enlightenment during my first day here. A heady subject for a first day, to be sure!!! I can’t remember it verbatim as I was very jet lagged with the twelve hour time difference but this covers the bones of the discourse:
“Enlightenment is not a matter of polar opposites. There is no such thing as a non-enlightened person and one who is enlightened … rather we are all on the path of enlightenment. Some may be struggling and entangled within the roots, wrangling with all manner of negatives, chronic sadness, selfishness, anger issues, victim mentality, senseless drama, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, racism, bigotry, etc. etc., while others are slowly navigating their way along the stems, some in the bud stage, some in bloom but all are on the same path … matters little where on the path, just that we are all on that enlightenment journey together”.
Osho waves off any form of spiritual arrogance or spiritual hierarchy. The journey of enlightenment may manifest differently for all of us but we are all on it together. Inclusion rather than exclusion! What a beautiful bit of philosophy ❤️!
My own addition or thoughts on that discourse would be … ‘when circumstances or others draw us back as they often will, life being what it is, into the heavier aspects of ourselves, how wonderful to know we are on a path and need only to let go of whatever negative forces derail us, adjust the sails and continue along on the long and winding journey towards the lightness of being, of enlightenment.’
“Be like the lotus, trust in the light, grow through the dirt, believe in the new”